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Santa Monica's Coyotes Have Become More Aggressive, Police Say

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By Lookout Staff

July 10, 2013 -- Police are urging residents to be on alert if they spot coyotes in their neighborhood because the perennial visitors to Santa Monica have become more aggressive.

Each summer, the normally skittish scavengers wander into the bayside city from their natural habit in the Santa Monica mountains, but this year, residents are seeing more and they've become more brazen, according to police.

“There have been reports of domestic animals being chased and/or attacked by coyotes, even in the presence of humans,” police officials said.

“Coyotes seem less fearful of humans than they once were, and as such, should be treated with extreme caution and distance,” they said.

As a result, the police want residents to know the facts about coyotes.

“Coyotes are hunters; they will hunt, kill and dine on any and all living creatures,” officials said. “Coyotes are extremely territorial.”

While coyotes visit Santa Monica year-round, police officials said that during the summer, when their natural water supplies dry up, they head into “suburban areas in search of food and water.”

They are also getting used to people.

“Coyotes rarely approach people in a threatening manner,” police said, “however, recent attacks on humans have been reported in other cities.”

In 2011, the SMPD received some 14 reports of coyote sightings and every year, the number of posters for missing pets around neighborhoods seems to jump around summer time.

SMPD officials point out that most coyotes will stay within three square miles or so of their birthplace. It's when they need food or water that they start to wander.

Since Santa Monica is adjacent to the country's largest urban national park -- 153,000 acres -- the presence of coyotes, or other animals, isn't unusual. In May of 2012, police shot and killed a three-year-old male mountain lion that had wandered into town from the nearby mountains.

While a mountain lion in Santa Monica might have been a rare sight, coyotes are not and SMPD officials want residents to be safe, offering a list of steps to take to avoid problems with the animals.

  • Do not approach or feed wild animals, including coyotes. It is unsafe.

  • Coyotes dislike loud noises and aggressive movement, such as a whistle, walking stick, shaking a tin can containing coins, or an umbrella, which you can open and close rapidly if confronted, to deter and scare away the coyote.

  • Never leave small children and pets unattended outdoors, even if your yard is fenced.

  • Coyotes are capable of scaling or jumping fences upwards of 5 ½ feet. This can be deterred by increasing the fence height to at least 6 feet and by adding an angle at the top facing outward at a 45 degree angle. Bury the bottom of the fence at least 12-18 inches underground and line the trench with rock to prevent coyotes from digging underneath.

  • Remove pet food dishes when your pet has finished eating and do not leave food outside.

  • Pick fruit from trees as soon as it ripens and pick up all fallen fruit. Cut low-hanging branches to avoid the coyote feeding the trees.

Call Santa Monica Police Animal Control Tuesday through Saturday between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 310-458-8595 to report coyote sightings, aggressive coyote behavior, or animals injured or killed by a coyote.

Call Santa Monica Police Dispatch to report in-progress aggressive coyote behavior at 310-458-8491.

Police officials advise anyone bitten by a coyote to seek immediate medical attention or to seek immediate veterinarian attention if a pet is bitten by a coyote.

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